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The Black Tape Project

Posted by BMD Admin on 05/14/2013

The Black Tape Project

Adhesive Art


Article by Mannie Pendexter


              Joel Alvarez—known also as Venge—has been into all forms of art since he can remember. The Miami based artist did some painting, some drawing, sculpting and he even dabbled in break dancing. He says his interest in the arts were sparked by comic book drawings, and as a teenager he began sketching detailed human figures—that eventually evolved into graphic female figures—which dominated most of his work.

              Eventually, Joel transitioned from drawing curvaceous ladies to photographing them. He, then, started experimenting and using black tape during his shoots. Today, Joel has taken this approach a step further releasing a series of photo sets using black tape—and only black tape—as wardrobe for his beautiful models. Black Men mag was able to get the 30-year-old artist to collaborate with them on a couple of exclusive shoots, and also sat down with the artist to talk a bit about his life, inspirations, and his highly-revered Black Tape Project.


BLACK MEN: Were there any artists in your family that inspired you?

Joel “Venge” Alvarez: My father was a draftsman. He drew buildings and houses. I loved the lines and the organization. I couldn't help it; I just had to create those designs my way. I think that my past practices like the drawing of the female figure plus the lines of architecture might have been my foundation for the approach in my projects.

Talk to us about the Black Tape Project and how that came about. What was the inspiration behind it all?

When I started photography, a model wanted to get taped up. She showed me a drawing of two girls wearing what looked like thin leather strips. I wasn’t too hot about the idea, but we did it. I think she looked like two Christmas hams wrapped in rubber bands—not cute. I started seeing designs, parts of the body turned into shapes and connecting lines between them. There were unlimited possibilities.

How do you come up with the designs you create with the black tape?

After months of handling tape, I started to see its weaknesses and strengths. How far can I bend it? Where can I place it? So many ideas I can produce. The concept is adding lines to complement the curves of the subject. The body is the inspiration. I really don’t plan a design. The point is to go with the flow. Enhance the curves and persuade the eyes to focus on the details.

When did you realize that you could take this project a step further and present it to a larger audience?

About a year ago. The shows started getting bigger and more known. Miami nightclubs started to show interest. Now, aside from a strong presence in Miami, we have started to expand to the west coast with shows in Vegas, LA, and spots in Europe like Ibiza, Spain and Cannes, France.

What are some of the things you're doing to promote your project?

To be completely honest, all I do is just post up photos of the latest project and the calls and emails start coming in. Currently, I stopped posting photos to give myself time to complete the current project.

What's next for Joel and the Black Tape Project?

So much to tell: Celebrity photo shoots to red carpet events, a two-week tour in Australia, two weeks in the Caribbean, and then back to Europe in the summer. However, I’m most excited about the concepts and the level the tape is reaching.

Do you plan on working on other types of art projects or transitioning to other mediums?

Definitely! The tape has inspired a lot of designs and more ideas, like fashion designs, so I do see myself being involved in fashion. I will have some pieces this year that are inspired by tattoos. Also, I’m pushing for several photo exhibitions with some of my new concepts.